Accepted Paper:

Artistic activism in Buenos Aires, Argentina: on political art and social impact  
Elke Linders (Utrecht University)

Paper short abstract:

In what ways do artist-activist groups in Buenos Aires, Argentina, engage in the (de)legitimization of cultural meanings attached to objects, practices and experiences? This paper discusses the paradox entailed by a preoccupation with the social impact of political art.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses the ways in which artist-activist groups in Buenos Aires, Argentina, engage in the (de)legitimization of cultural meanings attached to objects, practices and experiences. Ethnographic descriptions of these groups' politico-artistic activities - which include participative mural paintings, theatre and the construction of iron statues - reveal the multiple relations as well as inherent tensions between artistic and political realms.

I will pose the question of how political art - and interdisciplinary theorizations of political art - can engage with the paradox that a preoccupation with notions of social impact entails; whereas often politico-artistic projects are valued for their social and political impact, such focus on impact could be considered an incorporation of the same neoliberal values that such projects often actually envision to contest. At the same time these so-called 'real' impacts are more often assumed than actually measured or demonstrated in writings on political art. One of the ways to address this paradox is by looking at the ways that artist-activists themselves define impact and success of their activities and to reflect on how this relates to both artistic and political theorizations. Through such exercise I analyse in what ways these groups envision and deploy art as a political tool for creating alternative social and political imaginaries without reducing 'the artistic' to its social and political functionality nor reducing 'the political' to an artistic genre.

Panel P045
From Palestine Out: Art and the Political Imagination